Spectacular Settings – WEP entry August 2015

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The paragraph below is taken from:

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee:

An Indian History of the American West – by Dee Brown

Image (24)
‘I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream …’

Black Elk (1863 – 1950), of the Sioux

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The book is factual, and touched me on several levels. The statement may sound poetic, but it is the way in which great medicine men like Nicholas Black Elk spoke. It not only summarises one scene, but gives an insight to the atrocities performed by the multi-national invaders upon North America.

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An excerpt from my Goodreads review:

‘Apart from the callousness and cruelty visited upon the original caretakers of the North American continent I feel one of the most sickening thoughts is that it happened so recently – some of it in the late 19th Century.

I cannot recommend Dee Brown’s insights too highly. It should be compulsory reading for all American citizens – they owe that much to the memory of the Indians. Those same citizens should also educate their offspring to the deeds of their ‘brave’ forefathers.

An optional title for this book might be ‘Man’s Inhumanity to Man’.’

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And now, in total contrast:
My Work in Progress is an erotic novel – publication 1st Sept 2015.Give and Take - the final cover

Give and Take
(an excerpt from Chapter 2 – The White Room)

Nick sat up in bed, experiencing déjà vu as he lifted the glass. He sipped the water and let the fresh liquid wash around his mouth before he swallowed. As he placed the glass down again, the bedroom door opened.

“I see you’ve finally come back to life.” The visitor was an attractive woman. “My name is Heather.”

Nick leaned back on his elbows. His eyes opened wide, and his lips parted. Heather was in her mid-thirties, and at least 6ft tall. When she turned to close the door, her long brunette ponytail swished from side to side. A narrow band of black skirt showed below the hem of her short white lab coat. Thin black seams ran straight down the back of perfect legs and disappeared into shining black high heels.

Nick acted like a startled rabbit in headlights when his visitor turned to face him. High-arched eyebrows, hazel eyes, and long dark lashes gave Nick a warm feeling inside. When she spoke again, it brought Nick’s gaze to her sensuous ruby lips.

“It’s time to shed some light on the situation,” Heather said, and strode to the nearest set of drapes. She gave a gentle tug on a concealed cord, and the heavy material parted silently to let in natural light. Heather walked around the bed to the other drapes. As she walked, her unbuttoned coat opened, to show a white blouse and short black skirt.

Nick was feasting his eyes on Heather’s attributes when she reached the second window. She tugged a concealed cord, and the room became even brighter. Nick slid down under the duvet to lie flat on his back. He was aware of familiar stirrings as he devoured this stunning woman with his hungry eyes.

“Do you like what you see so far?” Heather asked as she stepped away from the window. She placed her hands on her hips which pulled the white coat back. There was a clearer view of the well-filled blouse, the top two buttons of which were undone.

“Well?” Heather asked, and inclined her head as she took a step forward.

“Yes,” Nick said and swallowed hard. “I like it a lot.” As usual with Nick, his head was ruled by a pulse further down his body – much further down than his heart.

“Good,” Heather said, as she stepped to the edge of the bed, reached down and pulled back the duvet. When Nick lay uncovered from head to toe, Heather looked down at his arousal and smiled.

Nick had been staring at the steady rise and fall, of Heather’s chest. He gasped at the sudden revelation of his condition. In the short time, he’d been in these strange circumstances it had never occurred to him that he was completely naked. He turned from admiring the statuesque woman and looked down at himself.

“Oh, Nick,” Heather said. “What have you been thinking? You’re blushing too.”

“How do you know my name?” he muttered as he reached to pull the duvet back up. “Where am I?” The thoughts that should have occurred to him earlier were surfacing. “Where is Kirsten?”

Heather leaned on the edge of the bed with both hands and looked into Nick’s wide-eyed stare. She knew what she was doing, and a smile played on her lips. Nick’s gaze fell to the improved view of Heather’s cleavage.

“Later, Nick,” she breathed. “First, you get freshened up and dressed. We’ll talk after you’ve eaten.” She rose to her full height and strode to the door, where she stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “If you don’t want to miss breakfast, you’ve got 20 minutes.”

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POST THIS BADGE UNDER YOUR ENTRY

        Word count 900 :  NCCO

Thank you to all who’ve made the effort to reach this far, and I wish the best of luck to all the participants in the WEP Competition – August 2015

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Change is … Refreshing

It matters not whether it’s an outfit, a job, a car, the look of a room, the layout of your desk, or the way that you do something – it sometimes gives the spirits a lift to create change.

As a writer it helps to have more than one project on the go, moving from one to another as and when the mood takes you, or when ‘resting’ a story between drafts.

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What are we doing when we change something?

We are refreshing. I recently set up a new item on my blog menu to give some basic guidance on the writing of short stories. I said within those guidelines that I’d follow up with a piece on writing short stories for competitions. That is now done and appears in my menu under the Competition Writing heading.

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What was that about change and refreshing in the intro?

When I started creative writing it was poetry, and then I tried short stories. The poetry was left behind as the whole concept of short story writing captured my imagination. It took a couple of years before I dared to consider a novel, but once I’d dipped my toe in the water – I was smitten. That particular change has proved worthwhile and fulfilling.

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What is the relevance of my personal writing progression to this post?

In recent weeks, apart from my other projects I’ve produced two short stories for anthologies. The incentive for writing the stories was that the proceeds of sales of the anthologies will be forwarded to charities. I will return to the subject of the anthologies to talk about them and promote them closer to their publication.

A lot of people are excited about the cover and title of one of the two charity anthologies, and quite rightly – because both are excellent. Over the next few days I’m pretty sure there will be many who ‘share’ the cover and promote the collection before its publication. I’ll leave that to them for now, and I’ll get underway with a similar strategy a day or two before the publication date.

By far my favourite Facebook group is the Indie Author Review Exchange, founded by fellow author, blogger and friend, Paul Ruddock. It is from that group, now numbering 570+ after only a few months, that an open request was made for authors to take part in the two charity anthologies.

I noted that not only were there authors who hadn’t written short stories for a while – it became clear that there were those who had never ventured into the challenges of writing short stories.

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Why is it a good idea to try writing short stories?

The short story is a separate discipline to that of novel writing, or even novella writing. A short story requires tighter word usage, fewer characters, a tight timeline and a single unwavering plot which starts with a personal conflict of some description.

There is no allowance for a cast of thousands, or lengthy and flowery descriptions of imagery. The dialogue should move the story forward as rapidly as the action. The character in crisis should be the one who plays the major part in how the original conflict plays out.

In my own humble opinion I believe that even the occasional short story helps the novelist to tone-up, refresh, and reassess where they are with their writing craft. I am presently working on three completely different longer pieces at the moment, but taking a break to produce two short stories was a breath of fresh air, which I am sure has affected how I am now approaching my novels.

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Are there any other reasons for writing short stories?

It may not be obvious to all writers, but there is money to be made and prizes to be won with short stories. Yes, they have to be of a high standard, and yes they will require to follow certain guidelines, but isn’t that true of any competition. If you’ve never considered the short story competition market and you’d like an insight, please check out – Competition Writing.

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What am I working on in novels?

In terms of priority my front runner is Acts of Vengeance, which is the sequel to Beyond The Law. Rapidly following that one is A Life of Choice, which is a fact-based fiction, coming-of-age story. The latest contender for my literary affections is Give and Take. I am intending it to be a full length erotic novel, so the story is very much an experiment. If you’ll pardon the pun, the secondary reason for writing such a story is to provide relief when not working on the other stories. Give and Take – Chapter 1.

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What else have I changed recently?

Whilst working on my two short stories for the anthologies, something came to mind. I went to my blog to check it out, and I was surprised by how many main subject headings I had on my main menu.

When I was leaving my writing aside for a break, I spent about half an hour refreshing my menu and selecting items that could be stepped down to sub-menu level.

You will see that my tips for writing short stories are all under one main heading. My short story anthologies are under a single heading. My four published novels are under one heading, and one that I’m particularly pleased about is, placing Work in Progress under one heading.

In one session I believe I have: improved the appearance of the main menu, made it easier to navigate, and made it more manageable for me as the main user. I look forward to any thoughts on the topics I’ve covered in this post.

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More or Less…

My competition entry targeted for the ‘surreal’ genre must be posted by the end of the month.  Surreal is an area that I’m not totally comfortable with, because although I like to think I’ve got a vivid imagination I find it difficult to totally lose track of reality. 

Strangely, at one stage I found myself for once with a complete short story in less than 1500 words.  The competition word allowance is 2000.  I’ve been working on my entry for weeks now so I toyed with the idea of leaving it alone.  After a coffee and some consideration it sounded like the soft option. 

After serious editing I left my story alone for four days, finally believing I had the task done.  I went back to it yesterday morning and introduced a slightly different ending.  The story blossomed into 2000 words.  Today I’ll edit severely again then leave it until tomorrow. 

Tomorrow it gets posted as an entry.  I have to move on.  It’s exciting to send in something that’s taken a lot of work but for some reason it’s even more exciting when you’re not totally sure of your direction.  I’ve managed to avoid reading any other work in the surreal genre.  I don’t want to lose the little confidence I’ve gained and I want to avoid outside influence.

Whatever happens I’ll be honest enough to come back and report here.  I will say now that if I don’t get anywhere with this one I will be trying again.